An exciting weekend of top-quality racing saw big wins for Politologue, Un De Sceaux and Sceau Royal on Saturday and Sunday.
But it was the seasonal reappearance of Sizing John which raised the biggest eyebrows.
Jessica Harrington’s mount missed the Lancashire Chase at Haydock last month after concerns over the ground.
There were no such worries on Sunday when the seven-year-old led home favourite Djakadam by 8l to land the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.
It was his fourth Grade 1 victory in a row following a trio of Gold Cup successes last season.
He wasn’t the only winner in Ireland on Sunday, though.
Un De Sceaux missed the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in favour of the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
It was a wise decision for connections who saw the French-bred raider cruise to a 25l victory on his seasonal bow.
The Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham will be the aim for him in the Spring, where he’s now 7/2 from 5/1 before the weekend.
Politologue is another with eyes on the Festival after defying the odds to see off heavy favourite Fox Norton in the Tingle Creek.
It was a confident jumping performance from the six-year-old chaser who is now two from two for the season.
Paul Nichols has trained the likes of Kauto Star and Denman in the past. In Politologue – now 10/1 for the Champion Chase – he could have another star.
Sceau Royal was also a weekend winner at Sandown, defying odds of 11/1to land the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.
Saturday’s other success story was Blaklion.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ mount justified favouritism to land the Becher Chase from a star-studded field including The Last Samuri, Highland Lodge and Vieux Lion Rouge.
Now the eight-year-old will have his eyes firmly set on the Grand National in April.
We’ve had no choice but to react and cut the British-raider to just 10/1 for racing’s biggest prize.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication